Boston High School: Kennebunk (Maine)

Northeast 7v7: Prep claims North title

July, 19, 2014
Jul 19
7:56
PM ET
EXETER, N.H. -- James DiBenedetto had a hard time getting on the field when the St. John’s Prep football team had the ball last season. It’s unlikely the same will be true this fall.

DiBenedetto, a 6-foot-4 wide receiver, caught a touchdown pass and another pass for a two-point conversion to help St. John’s Prep defeat Tewksbury 16-8 to win the Under Armour 7-on-7 tournament’s North Regional on Saturday.

“We still have a strong running team here, but coach (Brian) St. Pierre likes to throw the ball,” DiBenedetto said. “As you can see, we’re a pretty strong with passing. It’s good to win this. This really shows how much chemistry the team has.”

DiBenedetto, who will be a senior this season, is a Topsfield resident who played primarily safety and outside linebacker last season.

“It was hard to find an offensive position for him last year,” said Mike O’Leary (son of former St. John’s Prep coach Jim O’Leary), who coached the Eagles in the 7-on-7 event. “There was a senior at the X (wide receiver) last year, so he was all over the map (on defense). This year he’s moving to the offensive side of the ball.”

DiBenedetto was part of a deep group of receivers that seemed to separate St. John’s Prep from most of the competition Saturday. That group included 6-foot-4 tight end Jake Burt, wide receiver Michael Calascibetta and wide receiver Owen Rockett. Burt also caught a TD pass against Tewksbury. Rockett capped the scoring with a two-point-conversion catch.

Calascibetta is known as “Gloves” because he once was the only player to wear gloves to a quarterback/receiver camp. Burt, a Lynnfield resident, committed to Boston College in April. He said Virginia and Harvard were also in the picture when he chose BC.

“I wanted to play a higher level of football than the Ivy League, so BC was everything I wanted in a school,” Burt said. “It’s always good to start off the season with a win, no matter what kind of football it is. It’s still football.”

St. John’s Prep, which used both A.J. Carrigan and Oliver Eberth at quarterback, also won the North Regional last year, when the Eagles went on to win the tournament championship. Carrigan was with St. John’s Prep last season. Eberth is a transfer from Andover.

St. John’s Prep went 3-1 in pool play, and then won single-elimination games against Marshwood (South Berwick, Maine), Danvers and York, Maine, to reach the championship game. The tournament featured 40 teams.

“Our quarterback play was good,” O’Leary said. “They did just what we asked them to do. Between James and Jake, those are two very tall, tall kids. Very tough to cover for small corners out there.”

Championship bound: By reaching the North Regional’s championship game, St. John’s Prep and Tewksbury each advanced to the New England championship, which will be held July 30 at Bishop Fenwick High School (4 p.m.).

The New England championship will feature 10 teams: the finalists from each of the three regionals, plus four wildcard teams. The South Regional will be held today at Oliver Ames High School in North Easton, and the East Regional will be July 26 at Bishop Fenwick.

Jaguars make strong statement: Windham (N.H.) handed St. John’s Prep its only loss. The Jaguars were led by 6-foot-2, 215-pound quarterback Brendan McInnis, who will be one of the top QBs in New Hampshire next season.

Dartmouth, Brown, Merrimack College, Holy Cross and the University of New Hampshire are among the schools that have shown interest in McInnis.

“Dartmouth has emerged as the frontrunner,” McInnis said. “Right now I’m focused on getting to UNH (the site of New Hampshire’s state championship games), then I’ll try to make a decision.”

Windham won its first five games before it lost to Tewksbury in the quarterfinals.

New digs, same success: Former Longmeadow coach Alex Rotsko led Marshwood to a 4-0 record in pool play, but the Hawks were eliminated by St. John’s Prep in the Round of 16.

Longmeadow had a 184-38 record in Rotsko’s 19 seasons as head coach. He guided Longmeadow to 15 consecutive Super Bowl appearances.

“You get a lot of work on both sides of the ball,” Rotsko said when he was asked about the value on 7-on-7 events. “This is a great opportunity to work on your pass game, work on your defense and also to look at personnel. The big thing is you don’t waste a week or two weeks in preseason having a kid playing in some position he’s not going to be able to play. It saves you a ton of time.”

Marshwood lost to Kennebunk in last year’s Western Maine Class B championship game, and is expected to be one of the top teams in Class B this year.

“We hope to be in the thick of it again,” Rotsko said.
The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPN RISE, today announced Nadia Eke of Holy Name Central Catholic High School as its 2010-11 Gatorade Massachusetts Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year. Eke is the first Gatorade Massachusetts Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year to be chosen from Holy Name Central Catholic High School.

The 5-foot-10 senior won the long jump with a leap of 18 feet, 11.25 inches and the triple jump, soaring 41 feet, six inches, at the All-State Meet this spring. At the New England Interscholastic Outdoor Track & Field Championships this spring, Eke finished first in the long jump, with an effort of 18 feet, 1.75 inches, and the triple jump, landing a meet-record distance of 41 feet, 9.5 inches, which ranked as the nation’s No. 2 performance in 2011 at the time of her selection. She won the triple jump at the New England championships in three consecutive years.

Also a basketball standout, Eke has maintained an A average in the classroom. A member of the National Honor Society and her school’s yearbook committee, she has volunteered on behalf of an anti-bullying campaign, the American Red Cross and Students Against Destructive Decisions.

“Nadia is a very hard-worker who does not settle on past performances,” said Holy Name Central Catholic High Head Coach Craig Derrell. “She is always seeking ways to improve herself, setting goals and achieving them. She has done this while being very humble and an honor student.”

Eke will attend Columbia University this fall, where she will compete in track and field.

Eke joins recent Gatorade Massachusetts Girls Track & Field Athletes of the Year Deanna Latham (2010, Triton Regional) and Emily Jones (2008-09, Bromfield) among the state’s list of former award winners.

Below are the winners from the five other New England states:

CONNECTICUT: PRECIOUS HOLMES, HILLHOUSE

The 5-foot-4 sophomore captured three individual state championships this spring and led the Academics to the State Open title as a team. A returning Class M All-State selection as named by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association, Holmes won the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.03 seconds and broke the tape in the 200-meter dash in 24.58. She also finished first in the 400-meter dash with a meet-record time of 53.16 seconds, which ranked as the nation’s No. 3 performance among prep competitors in 2011 at the time of her selection.

At the New England Interscholastic Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Holmes placed first in the 100-meter dash in 12.29 and the 400-meter dash in 55.42. She also won both the 200- and 400-meter dash events at the 2010 New England championships as a freshman. At this month’s New Balance Outdoor Nationals she ran the third leg of the second-place sprint medley relay quartet that finished in 3:59.87, and she placed second in the 400-meter dash in 53.26.

Also a cross country standout, Holmes has maintained a 3.14 GPA in the classroom at New Haven Academy, where she attends high school and which does not offer a track program. She has donated her time as a youth track instructor in addition to annually volunteering on behalf of her track club at a road race in New Haven.

“People always talk about once-in-a-lifetime athletes who really aren’t that,” said Hillhouse High Head Coach Gary Moore. “Precious is the first athlete that I’m able to really say I’ll coach once in my lifetime. She’s absolutely incredible. People are shocked and amazed to see a 400-meter runner that’s also so good at cross country. It’s all about attitude. She puts 100 percent into everything she does, and she does the best that she can do with the ability she has. Her work ethic has been absolutely phenomenal. She’s the total package of what a coach looks for.”

Holmes will begin her junior year of high school this fall.

Holmes joins recent Gatorade Connecticut Girls Track & Field Athletes of the Year Lindsay Crevoiserat (2010, Glastonbury), Meg Ryan (09, Fairfield Warde), and Anna Shields (2008, Lewis Mills) among the state’s list of former award winners.

Holmes is the second Gatorade Connecticut Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year to be chosen from Hillhouse High School, joining Shaniqua Burgess (2006-07).

RHODE ISLAND: ALEIDA FERNANDES, CENTRAL FALLS

The 5-foot-9 senior thrower won the shot put and the discus at the All-State Meet this spring for a second consecutive year. The three-time All-American launched the shot put 39 feet and the discus 121 feet, 5 inches. Fernandes also won a silver medal in the hammer throw with a toss of 158-10 which ranked as the No. 7 distance among prep competitors in 2011 at the time of her selection. The two-time Field MVP at the All-State Meet placed fifth in the hammer throw at this month’s New Balance Nationals and concluded her prep career with 10 state titles.

Fernandes has maintained a B average in the classroom. She has volunteered locally with literacy-outreach programs and as a youth track coach.

Fernandes has signed a National Letter of Intent to compete in track and field on scholarship at Southern Connecticut State University beginning this fall.

Fernandes joins recent Gatorade Rhode Island Girls Track & Field Athletes of the Year Molly Reilly (2010, South Kingstown), Eryn Wheeler (2009, Coventry), and Victoria Flowers (2008, Classical) among the state’s list of former award winners.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: KRISTA VINCENT, SOMERSWORTH

The 5-foot-5 senior won the javelin throw at the Division I meet, the all-state Meet of Champions and the New England Interscholastic Outdoor Track & Field Championship Meet this spring. Vincent’s season-best throw of 140 feet, 8 inches ranked as the nation’s No. 39 distance among prep competitors in 2011 at the time of her selection. She won the javelin at the Class I state meet in 2009 and 2010 and placed 11th in the event at the Nike Outdoor Nationals in 2010.

Vincent has maintained a 3.07 GPA in the classroom. She has volunteered locally at the Somersworth Pumpkin Fest and as a middle school track and field coach.

Vincent has signed a National Letter of Intent to compete in track and field on scholarship at East Carolina University beginning this fall.

Vincent joins recent Gatorade New Hampshire Girls Track & Field Athletes of the Year Arianna Vailas (2010, Central), Jocelyn Briggs (2009, Winnacunnet), and Anna Cioffredi (2008, Lebanon) among the state’s list of former award winners.

MAINE: ABBY LEONARDI, KENNEBUNK

The 5-foot-1 junior won the 1600-meter run with a time of 4:55.39 and captured the 3200-meter run in 10:42.63 at the Class A state meet this spring. The state’s two-time returning Gatorade Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year and three-time Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, Leonardi finished first in the 3200-meter run for the second consecutive season at the New England Interscholastic Outdoor Track & Field Championships with a meet-record time of 10:19.09, which ranked as the nation’s No. 10 performance among prep competitors in 2011.

Leonardi set the meet records at 1600 and 3200 meters at the 2010 Class A state meet as a sophomore. She also won the 800- and 1600-meter runs at the 2009 Class A state meet as a freshman. Only one other athlete nationwide—Sacred Heart Academy (Kentucky) senior Emma Brink—has won Gatorade State Player of the Year honors six times in the award program’s 26-year history. She placed ninth in the 2-mile run in 10:29.84 at this month’s New Balance Outdoor Nationals.

Leonardi has maintained an A average in the classroom. She has donated her time to fundraising efforts on behalf of displaced civilians in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.

“She’s a unique athlete,” said Kennebunk High Head Coach Geoffrey Drew. “She’s the greatest high school distance runner in Maine’s history. It’s pretty incredible to have someone on your track team like that. She’s very encouraging to other athletes, and she’s willing to run other events that she wouldn’t normally run. It’s a great example. Other kids see how hard she works in practice, and they’re like, ‘Wow.’”

Leonardi, who has now won the award a third straight year, will begin her senior year of high school this fall.

VERMONT: MOLLIE GRIBBIN, SOUTH BURLINGTON

The 5-foot-8 junior won four individual state championships this spring and led the Rebels to the Division I state title as a team. Gribbin won the 100-meter dash in 12.49 seconds, the 200-meter dash in 25.81, the long jump with a leap of 18 feet, 5.5 inches and the triple jump (39-10). A 14-time state champion, she is the state record-holder in the 100, long jump, triple jump and indoor 55-meter dash, in addition to owning a share of state records in the 4x100-meter relay and the indoor 4x200-meter relay. Her season-best, state-record triple jump of 39-11.5 ranked as the nation’s No. 13 distance among prep competitors in 2011 at the time of her selection.

Gribbin has maintained a 3.90 GPA in the classroom. A member of her church youth group, she has volunteered locally as a youth track coach.

“Mollie is by far an elite athlete and beyond any others I have coached,” said South Burlington head coach Nicole Colantoni. “She is an athlete in every sense of the word. She is so humble that she still doesn’t realize how good she is and what she can accomplish.”

Gribbin will begin her senior year of high school this fall.

Gribbin joins recent Gatorade Vermont Girls Track & Field Athletes of the Year Hannah Rowe (2009-10, St. Johnsbury Academy) and Sarah Sherman (2008, Essex) among the state’s list of former award winners.

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